Not just awareness, an early involvement needed to defeat breast cancer

The incidence of breast cancer in India is rising, which creates a worrisome trend as well as an pressing need to encourage an early diagnosis for timely treatment. In recent years, immense efforts have led to an improved prognosis for patients, like mass awareness campaigns, early screening programmes, and targeted therapies. India has a wealth of unused healthcare data and clinical pieces of evidence that can be interpreted to understand key characteristics of breast cancer patients in India. These can then be applied to develop newer technologies and treatment protocols that suited for the Indian population.

A Real-World Evidence (RWE) study on the Indian population threw some significant questions on existing concepts and assumptions of factors affecting breast cancer. The study revealed that majority of women who had breast cancer did not smoke, had no family history of cancer, and had their 1st or 2nd child before the age of 30. In addition, the majority of women who got breast cancer were between the ages of 40 and 60 years, hence most were in their post-menopausal period.

The RWE backed-study also found that post-menopausal women, the age of 45 years or older, were at higher risk of breast cancer than pre-menopausal women. Majority of women were diagnosed with cancer only when they had Stage 2 or Stage 3 breast cancer.

Although, the analysis revealed that there was a 70% chance that breast cancer would reoccur, the survival rate among breast cancer patients is more than 90%. However, until a breakthrough treatment emerges that ensures a 100% survival and 0% recurrence, the only breakthrough available is a nation-wide preventive program that encourages all women to undergo regular screenings. Regular screenings will enable timely diagnosis, leading to better treatment options, a higher survival rate, lower recurrence rate, and most importantly, an improved quality of life for the patient.

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